Meat processing companies are major consumers of water. Production water is used in every part of the process, from slaughtering and rendering, to cleaning in place operations. The wastewater differs considerably depending on the animal processed. Slaughtering pigs, cattle and poultry not only produces different amounts of wastewater, the dissolved and non-dissolved pollutants differ considerably. Therefore, an customised meat processing wastewater treatment plant is crucial to achieve the best possible result.
Meat processing wastewater treatment
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This page gives you an overview of the different characteristics of wastewater in meat processing companies. You will learn where the wastewater originates in your abattoir, and what influence the different slaughtered animals have on the wastewater composition. You will also learn about the treatment options and the uses for which treated wastewater from slaughter processes can be further reused.
The demand for meat is high. For example, around 54 million pigs and 3.1 million cattle are slaughtered in Germany every year. More than 85,000 people work in over 1,000 slaughter and cutting plants. The amount of wastewater produced in the process adds up to about 11 million m³ per year for pig slaughtering and about 3 million m³ per year for cattle slaughtering.
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Sources and properties of wastewater in meat processing companies
Meat processing plants usually focus on processing either pigs, cattle, or poultry. The processing procedures are very similar, they are usually only adapted to the size of the animals. While slaughter and cutting are separate for pigs and cattle, they usually take place together for poultry. Separate processing only takes place in the manufacture of products in which poultry meat is only one component.
Wastewater is generated from the beginning to the end of the processing procedure. However, there are a number of different types of wastewaters in meat processing plants:
- Cleaning in place water
- Wastewater from alluvial processes
- Scalding water and boiling water
- Blood and process water
There is wastewater that is equally produced in pig, cattle, and poultry processing.
Wastewater after animal delivery
Cattle, pigs, and poultry are often driven in trucks to the slaughterhouses, where they are unloaded via a ramp. Physical cleaning then takes place, removing faeces, urine, and litter. This is followed by high-pressure cleaning with washing water. This type of cleaning also takes place in the animals’ waiting areas.
Clean processing, cutting and slaughtering machines
Regular cleaning and disinfection of processing, cutting and slaughtering machines is crucial to ensure hygiene in animal slaughtering. Alkaline solutions based on caustic soda are usually used to remove product residues, prevent contamination with microorganisms and ensure high product quality. Wet cleaning, part of the overall cleaning process, is divided into the following steps: pre-cleaning with soaking and rinsing of the coarse materials, foaming, rinsing of the cleaning agents, application of the disinfectant and its subsequent rinsing.
CIP procedure (Clean-in-Place)
In the CIP process, cleaning takes place in accordance with the production process. The pressure, intervals and use of cleaning agents are precisely matched to the contamination. It is not necessary to dismantle the equipment, as the cleaning systems are integrated into the equipment.
Process-specific wastewater treatment
The table below provides information on the water consumption for individual processes in the slaughtering of cattle and pigs.
Meat processing wastewater treatment options
The first option is to collect the wastewater for removal offsite. However, storage in tanks and subsequent removal is very expensive and a very rare solution for meat processing companies. The reason for this is the high volume of wastewater, which means that the intervals for collection and disposal are very short.
Treatment solution options for slaughterhouses
The second option is discharge into a municipal wastewater treatment plant or public sewer. In some countries there is a connection obligation by the regional water authorities. This means that as soon as a sewer network is available, the company is obliged to use it for wastewater disposal. However, as the wastewater from slaughterhouses has a very high content of COD, BOD5, blood, fat, and solids, slaughterhouses and abattoirs are usually obliged to pre-treat the wastewater. The most efficient treatment options are screening and chemical-physical treatment by dissolved air flotation.
Another option is direct discharge into the environment. However, this requires higher purification standards than indirect discharge via the municipal wastewater treatment plant. On the other hand, there are no user fees for the sewer and no treatment fees. The wastewater is then suitable for discharge into a receiving watercourse (standing or flowing water) or for irrigation. This higher treatment step usually requires a combination of screening, biological treatment, dissolved air flotation and disinfection.
A fourth option is the reuse of slaughterhouse wastewater. In most countries, the reuse of wastewater in slaughterhouses is strictly regulated. In some cases, it may only be used for non sanitary purposes or as cooling water. This requires additional treatment by ultrafiltration or reverse osmosis.
Choosing the correct treatment solution is crucial to comply with all required regulations. Incorrect design can lead to treatment failure and thus to an insufficient cleaning result. In the rest of this section, you will learn more about how we can help you plan a wastewater treatment plant for your slaughterhouse.
Ask us which process technology is best for your slaughterhous
Planning and purchasing a wastewater treatment plant for slaughterhouses
You have now gained an overview of where wastewater is produced in rendering operations and what its properties are. As soon as we know the quantity and composition of your wastewater and the required discharge values, we will prepare a free, non-binding offer for you. In meat processing companies, the high wastewater load and water consumption are two cost-driving factors. Therefore, in many cases, wastewater treatment is a way to reduce running costs in the long term.
It is important for us to have precise knowledge of your site specific requirements. We are happy to visit you on site to learn about your conditions and requirements. Our in-house laboratory is able to analyse your wastewater sample. We can install the wastewater treatment plant in your production building and thus integrate it into your operation seamlessly, or another space-saving option is a modular, containerised system for outdoor installation.
With our team, you get a reliable product and the best service from a single company. We will accompany you from the planning stage, through construction and commissioning, to the issuing of maintenance contracts. Contact us today, as our industry experts will be happy to help you!
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